During the week covered by this review, we received 13 articles on the following subjects:
Christians in Israel
Atmosphera, April 10, 2014
The Our Lady of Sorrows Festival is held every Good Friday in the cities and villages of Malta. Among other things, the festival includes processions of penitents and self-flagellators, barefoot and bound in chains. The main procession is held in the capital, Valletta, at the Our Lady of Sorrows Cathedral.
Haaretz, April 20, 2014
The 1,200-year-old Holy Fire ceremony took place at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher this past Saturday, April 19th. The ceremony, which includes the appearance of “holy fire” to the top Orthodox clergy inside the tomb section of the church, symbolizes that “Jesus has not forgotten his followers.” The fire was passed to the candles and torches of the thousands of worshippers and pilgrims waiting outside, some of whom even held the light to their faces or dripped wax on themselves. The fire was then taken to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and to Athens, as well as many other places around the world.
The Jerusalem Post, April 20, 2014
UN peace envoy to the Middle East Robert Serry gave a statement and subsequent remarks in which he accused Israeli police of “unacceptable behavior” toward him and other diplomats, including Palestinians. According to his statement, he was crushed against a barricade by crowds, the police at the barricade ignored his requests to speak to a superior, and he might have been trampled if the police had not finally let him through. A spokesman from the Foreign Ministry dismissed Serry’s statement as a “serious problem of judgment” as no violence was reported during the Holy Fire ceremony.
Haaretz, April 22, 2014
In this article, Elon Gilad reviews the possible history of the Easter holiday. He begins by giving a very detailed account of the Easter story, taken from the Bible. He then explains that over time Passover became associated with the death of Jesus, but that the first mention of an actual separate holiday was in the second century CE. Eventually the date of the feast was changed to the spring, possibly coinciding with other similar Middle Eastern stories, such as the Babylonian Tammuz, Persian Mithras/Roman Sol Invictus, Sumerian Innana, Egyptian Horus, or Greek Dionysus. Gilad also cites Eostre, the Germanic goddess of dawn—who was associated with the hare—as the origin of the name Easter, although the Easter Bunny bringing eggs to children did not appear until the 1600s.
Yated Ne’eman, April 10, 2014
This article interviews both Abraham “Abe” Foxman and Dr. Ephraim Zoroff, known as “the last Nazi hunter.”
Foxman, himself a Holocaust survivor, has functioned as director of the Anti-Defamation League for the past 27 years. The interview dealt with the state of anti-Semitism, past and present; Foxman is convinced that although the situation in the world today is better than in the days of the Holocaust, it is still the worst it has been since then. Outside Israel the situation is best in the USA, in spite of organizations like the Ku Klux Klan. The situation in Europe, on the other hand, is the worst, since Europe doesn’t expend serious efforts to fight anti-Semitism, except perhaps for Germany, and most of the younger generation doesn’t know much about the Holocaust. However, the ADL does see its activities bearing fruit. Foxman says, “The solution is education, education and more education. When you convince one person, you begin to change the world.”
Dr. Ephraim Zoroff is CEO of the Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem. He became a Nazi hunter while investigating Mengele [a German SS officer and doctor at Auschwitz –ed.]. Zoroff says, “The fact that I was named for one of the Holocaust martyrs, a member of my family, motivated me in this Sisyphean task.” Zoroff has discovered the escape routes of more than 3,000 criminals, many of whom, however, were already dead. He says, “What gives me the strength to persevere is the fate of the murdered. All the frustration, disappointment and nerves are nothing compared to the murdered of the Holocaust.”
Makor Rishon, April 18, 2014
This five-page article is an in-depth history of inherent anti-Semitism in Spain. The article begins with the medieval blood libel and the Inquisition; it surveys the deep suspicion, the anti-Jewish legislation, the obsession with blood purity, and the tortures throughout the centuries of Spain’s history. After the expulsion in 1492, Spain’s economy became very unsteady—receiving only temporary relief from American gold—and this led, over time, to various attempts to bring Jews back to Spain to alleviate some of the distress. These attempts were not very successful with Jews of Spanish descent, but some from eastern parts of Europe did choose to relocate, especially toward the end of the 19th century, as the Spanish government became secular and persecution increased in other countries. Full diplomatic relations with the modern state of Israel were established only in 1991.
The Spanish government recently passed a law allowing Jews of Spanish descent to return and receive citizenship, again in an attempt to ease the present economic hardships. However, Jews using this right to return “are advised to be cautious, as this might lead to a strengthening of the zealous Muslim element, turning Spain again into a country where Jews are in perpetual danger.”
Makor Rishon, April 25, 2014
This article covers anti-Semitism, noting that “genocide usually occurs after immense and continued demonization of the potential victims.” In medieval times, Jews were seen as “sorcerers, murderers, cannibals, poisoners and God-cursers.” The Catholic Church taught that Jews killed Christ, and that their descendants bore the same guilt; this teaching was changed only in 1965. However, according to research done by the Anti-Defamation League in 2012, approximately 60 million adults living in the European Union “agreed partially or completely that Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus.” In spite of growing anti-Semitism, it is unlikely that a second Holocaust will happen in Europe, but it is possible in the Muslim world; calls for genocide have been heard in Iran and Egypt, for instance. In order to prevent this, Israel must do the utmost not only to prevent a nuclear bomb being developed in Iran, but also to spread as much information as possible in the Western world “regarding the cruelty and hypocrisy present in parts of the Muslim world.”
Sof HaShavua, April 25, 2014
Two months ago it was revealed that an unknown individual has been repeatedly vandalizing copies of The Diary of Anne Frank in libraries and bookstores in the Kanto region of Japan. Although anti-Semitism is present in the country and neo-Nazi groups do exist, Anne Frank is very well known and her diary is a bestseller, having been published first in 1952. The story appears to touch many Japanese because of its similarity to the story of Sadako Sasaki, a girl who was injured in the bombing of Hiroshima. The police have arrested a suspect, but although he has admitted to vandalizing 23 books, his state of health has led the police to assume that he is not in fact the guilty party; many suspects are possible, such as far-right activists or Palestinians. Although Holocaust museums do exist in Japan, the subject is not included in school curricula, nor are there state memorials. Emperor Akihito did not visit any Holocaust sites in his visit to Poland in 2002 and many archives have not been opened, causing some entities to wonder if Japan is attempting to distance herself from her past.
Christians in Israel
The Jerusalem Post, April 23, 2014
The IDF has decided to send draft notices to Christian Arab youth, to inform them of the possibility of volunteering for service. Fr. Gabriel Nadaf, founder of the Forum for Christian Enlistment to the IDF, is convinced that this “is a crucial step in improving the ability of the Christian community to integrate into Israeli society.” This growing trend among the Christian community has been consistently opposed by other Arab elements, who say that this move intends to fracture the Arab population. However, Nadaf says, “Other people will not speak for us any longer … we have a joint fate in this land.”
Haaretz, April 24, 2014
The recent law giving Christians separate and larger representation on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as the recent decision to send voluntary draft notices to Christian Arab youth, are both meant to divide the Arab community. The state should rather approach all those who are not automatically drafted. The approach used until now opposes the foundational idea of citizenship, since in a democracy people should not be distinguished by religion or any other criteria.
Israel Hayom, April 20, 2014
On Tuesday evening, April 22, Yad Ben-Tzvi held a tour in the Old City vicinity, comparing the Jewish and Christian Passovers, and especially following Jesus’ route on the night of the Last Supper.
The Jerusalem Post, April 20, 2014
Novelist Linda Stasi will shortly be arriving in Jerusalem to research her next book, possibly to be called The Book of Judas. This book follows The Sixth Station, in which the true life of Demiel ben-Yusef, either terrorist or savior of humanity, is intertwined with the ancestry of New York reporter Alessandra Russo, who then must deal with a possible apocalypse. Although the article does not reveal plot lines for The Book of Judas, it does cite Stasi’s deep and unexpected interest in the Virgin Mary’s house in Ephesus. It also mentions that an element in the novel will be pages in a safety deposit box on Long Island that are likely to help Alessandra save the world, and that the plot will circle back to Jerusalem, to the origins of Judaism.
Makor Rishon, April 23, 2014
A 15-centimeter iron chisel has recently been found in a pile of building rubble, 5-6 meters below the level of the Second Temple era street near Robinson’s Arch, at the foot of the Temple Mount. This is the first time a building tool has been found in this area. The chisel was found by Eli Shukron, the Israel Antiquities Authority director of the dig. It is surmised that the chisel fell from the hands of a builder, who was high on the scaffolding during the edging of the immense stones in the Western Wall.